"Adely," Tristan said from the doorway, "your dad asked me to get you. It's dinnertime."

She didn't look over, and Tristan vaguely noted a distasteful look on her profile. "Which one?"

Tristan smiled a little. Adelyn obviously thought having two dads was weird, but Tristan thought it would be cool. Of course, he'd miss his mom; he could have two dads and a mom, he thought, but dismissed it as selfish.

"Uncle Chad," he said.

"Tell him I'm not hungry." She hit a few keys on the grand piano at which she sat, and Tristan recognized them as a C chord. He walked across her vast room and sat next to her on the bench.

"I'm not very hungry either," he said.

"Whatever." Adelyn continued to play, testing Beethoven's Fifth in a different key.

"You're pretty good," Tristan said.

She hit the highest E key at a staccato rate and then turned a typical-twelve-year-old-girl glare on him. "Your mom's going to get mad."

"She'll get over it." He played a lower E key in unison with her. She stopped.

"Do you know what privacy is, Tristy?" she asked sarcastically.

"Don't call me that," he grimaced.

"Don't call me Adely."

"What should I call you?"

She clicked her tongue quietly, then announced, "Adele."

"Just call me Tristan," he said.

"I didn't ask."

"Fair enough." He began the Ode to Joy.

"I didn't know you played piano."

He raised an eyebrow down at the keyboard. "I've been playing guitar for five years. I'd tried it."

She looked at him and smiled. Adelyn was a week and a half older than Tristan, and was only his first cousin, but they looked like siblings at twelve. Tristan's floppy blonde bowl cut mirrored Adelyn's bob; both had large, bright blue eyes and roundish faces. Tristan could proudly declare himself the taller of the two, and he was thinner than Adelyn, who was merely in the process of developing curves. Both, it seemed, had musical hands.

Adelyn hit a few keys and then smiled again, playing a few chords in succession. The song registered quickly in Tristan's brain: "Heart and Soul." His mother had taught him that song when he was about six. He was nowhere near as good as Adelyn, who'd been playing the piano for nine years, but he was decent. He found the right octave and played the melody.

She laughed when he started playing and began to add intricacies to her playing. He couldn't, but continued his playing for many repeats of the song. When Adelyn stopped, he finished slowly and dramatically.

"You're not so bad," she said.

"Thanks," he said ironically.

"Yeah." She smiled quickly in with similarly ironic tone. "When you get famous, I get to play piano on your CDs, right?"

"If, when you're famous, I can play guitar on yours."

She extended a hand to be shaken. "It's a deal." She paused, looking thoughtful. "You know, I think you're my only sane relative. Dad's so dramatic and Daddy can be really boring, and his sense of humor sucks. Your dad's kind of…"

"Weird?" Tristan finished, smiling ruefully.

"…yeah. And your mom's great, but you can be talking to her and she just-"

"Runs out of the room to write?"

"…yeah. And your brothers-"

"Oh, God," he groaned.

"Benji's so smart that talking to him is pointless. Max's funny, but he's got a little bit of an ego, and he thinks I'm a kid. Sawyer's young and into all that dorky kid stuff, and Jacob's even younger. That leaves you."

"And you," Tristan said.

"We better stick together."


Adele hit the E key again. "What are they having?"

"Spaghetti. I think our respective parents grew up inside an Olive Garden."

"The restaurant, right?" Adele smiled. "I'm kinda hungry."

"Me too. Let's have some."

"'Kay." They rose. Adele stopped halfway to the door.

"You've gotta promise to change the subject when Benji starts talking about quantum physics."

"I'll do my best."

"Promise me," she insisted.

He smiled at her. "I promise.

"Okay. I'm hungry. Let's eat."

"Alright." And somehow, with that word, the mutual understanding of Tristan Jannsen and Adelyn Walker began with a piano and a five-course spaghetti dinner-and four angry parents, three of them men, who had wanted to start dinner, for once, on time.